Working at home is tough. Working at home with your spouse is tough. Add in kids too? MAJOR TOUGH!
Working moms have it tough. I'll be the first to admit it. Being committed fully to work and family is a nearly impossible task that working moms have to take on. It can be exhausting and thankless, being perceived as not fully present as an employee or a mother. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
It is possible to pursue a fulfilling full-time career while taking an active role as a mother, IF you learn to find a balance that works for your life.
Here are a few tips that will help working moms (and spouses) to make juggling it all a bit easier:
1. Let go of the guilt
As mothers, we are so often judged for “abandoning” our children when returning to work full-time, while fathers are expected to go to work to “provide” for the family. Why is this stereotype still so present in our seemingly progressive society?
Some women don’t have the option of being a stay-at-home mom, while others choose to go back to work because they don’t want to give up their career. Whatever the reason, deciding to be a working mom is a choice that should be admired, not judged or shamed. If you are feeling guilty about not being with your child all the time, it’s time to let it go.
In addition, sometimes, if we are the main breadwinners, we can feel a lot of pressure to either back-off and let our husbands shine a bit OR we have the pressure of providing totally for the family as well as do all the wife and mom stuff.
Again, it's time to let it go.
Focus on the positive things that your work life is contributing to your family. Be confident that you are making the best choice for your whole family, including yourself, and your children and spouse will feel the extent of your love and understand your sacrifice.
2. Use time-saving hacks
To get the most done in the least amount of time, use shortcuts, and plan strategically.
Order your groceries online (I like Instacart and Thrive Market) and use curbside pick-up or have them delivered to your house; this saves time AND ensures that you don’t forget anything.
Schedule conference calls during your commute and get quick errands done during your lunch break to free up more time during the week.
Prepare meals on the weekend so that you can focus on your work and family and not have to worry about one more thing on your list of things to do! I typically make a list of meals we want to have (especially ones I can double and freeze) on Saturday morning, grocery shop in the afternoon, and spend a lot of Sunday prepping or cooking those meals with both my husband and kids. It's a fun activity for us all!
3. Maintain open communication with your manager
Being a working mom does NOT mean you will be a less productive employee. However, changes will definitely happen.
Mothers are typically the primary parent when a child is sick or has an appointment, and is the one responsible for helping with this new virtual learning; so working moms often need more flexibility in their schedules. But working moms are some of the most committed employees out there! From skipping lunch breaks to working on the weekends, these women do NOT use their child as an excuse to slack off.
The important thing is to make sure you communicate to your manager what your needs are, as well as how you will continue to do your job well. Hopefully, your manager will be understanding and appreciate your transparency and dedication to both your family AND your job.
4. Reduce distractions and time wasters
Time is such a precious commodity when you are working from home, especially as a woman.
At work, be mindful of the time you are spending socializing with co-workers if it is affecting your productivity. Limit long lunch breaks and surfing the internet so that you can get the most out of your work time.
When at home, focus on your spouse and your child rather than your phone or the TV to ensure that the time spent together is meaningful and intentional.
5. Reconnect with your partner
The key to a happy home starts with a happy marriage. Make your marriage a priority because it will have an immense impact on everything else.
If you are a parent, find childcare and go out on regular date nights, doing things that the two of you enjoyed doing before becoming parents. Plan something other than dinner at your usual place, like a painting class or trivia night. Have an honest conversation with your partner that doesn’t involve work or kids and really listen to what they have to say.
6. Stay organized using calendars and lists, plan ahead
This is my favorite! The mental load that working women (and moms) must take on is a responsibility that no one else can understand.
You are the one in charge of keeping track of doctor’s appointments, signing permission slips, bringing potluck dishes, remembering birthdays, writing cards, staying on top of of clothes and sizes, knowing what’s in the fridge and pantry, never letting the house run out of toilet paper, just to name a few!
I highly recommend using planners (my favorite is Michael Hyatt's planner), apps, and other resources to keep track of your never-ending to-do’s and let go of some of the mental weight. For me, I add events to a shared calendar so that my husband can easily see what’s coming up and help out.
Plan ahead as much as possible so that nothing is left to the last minute.
7. Say yes to less
You don’t have to say yes to every single coffee invitation or extracurricular activity if it is causing you more anxiety than enjoyment.
Determine how much your schedule can handle and choose the activities that your child will enjoy the most. Don’t feel bad about saying no to the rest. Overbooking takes all of the fun out of the experience and leaves no time for much-needed rest.
8. Lower your expectations
There can be a lot of the pressure that women have to cook healthy and delicious meals daily, maintain a perfectly clean house, and be the perfect parent are expectations that you put on yourself. No one else demands as much as you demand of yourself.
Read that again.
No one else demands as much as you demand of yourself.
You really need to lower your own expectations. Only then will you find a lot of the unnecessary stress can be eliminated.
Your house does NOT need to be spotless every time a guest comes over, especially if the guest also has children.
Buying cookies instead of baking them yourself does NOT make you a bad mom. Home-cooked meals every day is a great goal to strive towards, but leftovers and take out will also feed your family just fine.
9. Make time for YOU
Finding time for yourself is crucial in maintaining inner peace and balance within the hectic environment of work and home life.
Women and moms have a bad habit of putting their own needs last in order to take care of everyone else first. But if you aren’t taking care of yourself, how can you expect to take care of anyone else WELL?
Find the time on a regular basis and an activity that will allow you to relax and recharge. Some ideas include: meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, writing, catching up with a friend, or pampering yourself.
For me, one thing I like to do during “me time” is writing in my gratitude journal and early morning workouts. The journaling helps me to appreciate more, put things into perspective, and make my worries and anxieties seem less consequential; and the workouts loosen up my body and mind.
Best of both worlds
Can a working mom have both a successful career and a fulfilling family life?
It is absolutely possible.
It may not look exactly like how you pictured it, but don’t let that deceive you. Recognize and appreciate all of the great things you do have, and just take it one day at a time.
Balancing Mom and Wife as a Working Professional
October 8, 2020